Chase the Chuck Wagon is a 1983 promotional video game distributed by Purina for the Atari 2600/VCS home console. It was available only via mail order by sending in proofs of purchase to Purina.
In the 1970s and 1980s, popular television commercials for Purina dog food included a dog chasing a tiny chuck wagon. The gameplay is loosely based on this premise.
Chase the Chuck Wagon is a maze game. The object of each maze screen is to move Chuckie, the dog, through mazes of four different designs and escape through the opening directly below the chuckwagon. The player has limited time (60 or 30 seconds depending on the difficulty setting) per maze to accomplish this.
As part of a promotion involving the Chuck Wagon line of dog food, Purina contracted video game distributor Spectravision to create a game themed around dogs and dog food. Customers could redeem proofs of purchase from bags of dog food in exchange for the game, an example of a new marketing technique that emerged during the popularity of video games in the early 1980s. In practice, the promotion was relatively unsuccessful, and the game is nowadays something of a collector's item. The unshipped cartridges were destroyed.
A note from the developer of the game: "I was approached by a good friend who ran TMQ/ICOM and he badly needed this game programmed over a weekend. Yes, it took me all of 3 days to cobble this game together. I had existing code from my first game, Artillery Duel, to look at. The sound effects were basically the same. I apologize for the weak game play, but I was rushed!" -- Mike Schwartz